Overcoming Depression – Creating an Attitude of Gratitude Part 5

You Find What You Look For I am finishing my attitude of gratitude series today.

The quote I used on today’s meme tells it all: You Find What You Look For.

What a profound statement! I remember so vividly the night that I had my near-death experience. It was proceeded by a phone call from a bill collector. My severe depression and 24/7 migraines had created chaos of our business and finances. I was not able to keep up and several large clients filing bankruptcy had had a profound effect on our bank account.

I tried to explain to the bill collector that I was suffering from severe depression and 24/7 migraines in hopes that she would be more willing to work with me. Instead, she said, in the snidest tone of voice she could find, “You are depressed and sick because you want to be depressed and sick.”

That conversation was the last straw for my depressed mind that horrible, horrible day so many years ago. Thank goodness for the Divine Intervention that followed that night!

I have learned many things since that day. I have walked a path of healing and I have searched and studied hard. I am no longer depressed and I no longer have 24/7 headaches. I now have the health of someone much younger than my actual age. Nothing about my current situation is an accident. It came as a result of learning and following God’s guidance step by step.

Though I did not consciously choose depression or my headaches, I did have to learn a different mindset to overcome my depression. I had to deliberately look for light and goodness. I had to consciously recognize and acknowledge all that I had to be grateful for. And, I had to commit to using those new found skills for the rest of my life. The result? My life and health is better than it ever has been!

Thus far, we have talked about Depending on God, Delving into the Depths of Your Soul (Getting to truly know yourself), and having an Attitude of Gratitude. Those are the first three steps for overcoming depression.

There are no quick fixes. The law of the harvest is as applicable today as it ever has been. The rest of this week, we will share how the use of exercise can help overcome depression. Be sure to stay tuned! I hope you will enjoy today’s article on using gratitude to overcome depression:

Gratitude – A Cure for Depression?

This Is No Fun

Depression is no fun… none at all, I hated it. Obsession isn’t any fun either… all that relentless going over what happened, who said what, who did what, and how unfair it all was.

After a major life crisis I spent the next year, though it felt a whole lot longer, pretty much laying around on the couch bemoaning my life and feeling hopeless, pointless, angry, depressed, bitter and also quite a bit righteous. After all, I was the victim wasn’t I?

There’s A Train in My Brain

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It felt like I had a train in my brain going around and around carrying a relentless pattern of sad, mad, thoughts. I could not turn those thoughts off, could hardly sleep, and found it hard to think about anything else. The train was full of pain and every time it went around I hurt.

When I looked into the future and imagined living with that train long term it made me feel like jumping off a tall building. Fortunately I didn’t even have the energy to climb to the top of one.

Eventually I got desperate enough to go out and look for a way to change things that did not involve tall buildings.

So That’s How My Brain Works

I happened upon a course that taught me about how my brain works, what neural pathways are, and how flexible and changeable the brain is. During the course I had a profoundly life changing epiphany:

“You find what you look for.”

Those six little words changed the way I live my life.

Backtrack

To backtrack a little: I best explain that even during the worst of my depression/obsession I had been very, very, familiar with gratitude as an concept – I loved it.

I had a gratitude journal (mostly empty) and two of my daughters, Georgia & Hailey, had popular online gratitude projects. Unbelievably, given my mental state, Hailey and I had even written a short comedy film script about gratitude. Still, my gratitude journal sat lonely by my bed while I waited, not very hopefully, for something good to happen, something worth being grateful for.

Why Gratitude Works

While the course was not really about gratitude, the science that was presented in the course opened my eyes as to why and how gratitude could work to alleviate depression and why it had not worked for me so far. I began to understand that it isn’t, as I had thought, being happy that makes us grateful; it is deciding to be grateful that makes us happy (Thanks for that wisdom Dr David!).

I began to see that the intentional practice of gratitude, even when you don’t feel like it, has the power to change entrenched negative thinking and rewire the brain.

Very tentatively, and with some difficulty at first, I began to practice gratitude. In a surprisingly short period of time that relentless train in my head was mostly derailed and my depression faded off into the distance.

There are many reasons that gratitude worked for me, here are just a few:

Other Orientation

Brain rules Dr. John Madina

Gratitude practice forced me to start thinking about other people and the way they contributed to my life. I had less time to wallow, gazing at my navel and more time to notice how many kindnesses I was regularly shown. I’d been so self focused that I just took them for granted and didn’t even notice them.

Dr John Medina, author of the NY Times Bestseller ‘Brain Rules’ spoke, during an interview film for our (still in production) documentary Goodness Gracious Me!, about how effective ‘other orientation’ is for getting out of depression.

Lots of Good Chemicals

I found gratitude practice reduced my stress levels almost immediately. There is so much science backing this up – research shows that gratitude practice reduces the stress hormone cortisol and dramatically increases the feel good hormone DHEA. There is nothing like an all natural ‘happy chemical’ cocktail to make you feel better. You might enjoy this page on the Science behind gratitude.

New Tracks

It turned out I did have a train in my brain going around and around on tracks I had laid for it: neural pathways! These little guys are the highways for information travelling through our nervous system and they are built by our own thoughts. It works, very simplistically put, like this: Thoughts create neural pathways and the more thoughts on a subject the stronger that neural pathway becomes. Our brains have to automate most of our thinking just to get through the day so the strongest neural pathways are the default thinking. My nasty, sad, self pitying and angry thoughts had created a super highway and it was no wonder I couldn’t think about much else.

As I began to deliberately think grateful, thankful, good thoughts the more my brain began to think positively and the less traction the old super highway depression pathway had. In time I found it more natural to default to a positive take on things that happened.

Different Picture

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When I said I had had an epiphany around the six little words “You find what you look for.” I meant it.

Just simply deciding each day to look for the good in my life, and express gratitude for it, has meant that my life has become filled with good. The more I look for good things in my life the more my brain becomes alert to good things, scans for good things, and finds good things.

It is hard to be depressed when there is so much good around. Previously my brain was wired to scan for bad, and it was exceptionally good at finding it.

Named My Own Game

Once I understood how my own thoughts could play a part in depression I realized that I was often making the choice to replay certain things for a variety of self-serving reasons.

Firstly I had developed a victim mentality – starring in a victim role comes easily to me and I have learned to become more aware of it, avoiding it as often as possible. Bad stuff happens to everyone and it is my choice if I let myself play the victim.

Gratitude teaches me that I am not a victim but the undeserving recipient of so much beauty and grace.

Gratitude is an instantly rewarding practice that gave me positive emotions that transitioned me to a place where I was stronger emotionally and able to be a little more self controlled.

Another game I was playing was the sympathy game – if you are depressed people treat you kindly and give you sympathy – yay! Gratitude is teaching me to give empathy to others and stop making myself the center of my own, and everyone else’s, attention. I also began to glimpse how draining on everyone my misery was – not a pretty sight.

I also secretly enjoyed knowing that I did not have to be strong and self controlled if I was rolling in my own misery. Everyone understands that when you are miserable it’s hard to be strong and so there is tolerance for much self indulgent behaviour. Gratitude is an instantly rewarding practice that gave me positive emotions that transitioned me to a place where I was stronger emotionally and able to be a little more self controlled.

My own experience tells me that gratitude is a powerful antidote to depression, many people I talk to feel the same way.

mountains joy awe

Feeling grateful brings emotions of awe, wonder, happiness and joy, to name a few, and those emotions shove depression aside.

As I have researched the subject of gratitude I have come across loads of scientific studies that back up my own experience regarding depression. I have looked a little at depression research too and more and more there is an understanding that our own thoughts have a huge role in this affliction.

Certainly the widespread acceptance that depression is just a chemical imbalance or a random disease is under review among many scientists and psychologists at the moment.

Kill Depression With Kindness

Which brings me to my other depression killing tip: Random acts of kindness – if all else fails for me, and I find myself getting a little down, I just go out and do secret acts of kindness for strangers and friends. Works every time!

This article was written by Toni Powell and is shared from the following website: http://gratefulness.org/grateful_living/gratitude-cure-depression/


smiling woman Toni Powell

Toni Powell is a recovering worrywart, author, storyteller and award-winning filmmaker. She spends most of her time teaching people about the life-changing power of gratitude through very funny workplace seminars, professional development for teachers, public How To Have a Happy Life workshops and videos like the surprising, hilarious and helpful video, The Yellow Car.

 

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Overcoming Depression – Creating an Attitude of Gratitude Part 4

Gratitude and Attitude are not Challenges; they are Choices Robert BraatheI hope that you have been spending this week like me: concentrating on all that we have to be grateful for.

So many of us want sunshine in our lives and feel that if life is not without it’s storms, then we have been dealt an unfair blow. The truth of the matter is that how we view our world is our choice.

I am reminded of the story in which two new families moved into a small town. The father of the first family asked a long-time member of the community by the name of Bill what kind of town their community was. Bill asked, “What kind of town did you just move from?” The father replied, “It was horrible. No one was kind or courteous. Everyone gossiped and we never felt welcome.” To his dismay, Bill told the father, “Oh, I think you will find this town just about the same.” Then, the father of the second new family approached Bill. He asked Bill the same question. Once again, Bill asked the father, “What kind of town did you just move from?” The second father responded, “Oh, the town we just moved from was wonderful! We loved it there! We made many friends! Everyone was wonderful and friendly!” Bill responded, “Well that’s wonderful! I know you are going to love living here as well!”

The moral of the story was that each father was going to get what they expected. We often are no different. Our expectations (attitude) most often dictate the outcome.

If we want the most amazing outcome possible for our lives, we must practice gratitude – not just as an occasional meandering into the area but as a deliberate way of life.

I love the article I share with you today! I hope you will enjoy and keep practicing that Attitude of Gratitude!:

5 Simple Ways to Develop an “Attitude of Gratitude”

by David A. Christensen

Our attitude is defined by the way we think and feel about life. It all begins with the way we see the world—which triggers a reaction, response, or behavior. Developing an “attitude of gratitude,” or seeing the world in such a way that spawns a thankful heart, produces many positive results.

Studies in what has become known as the “science of gratitude,” show that being grateful helps us feel more alive, promotes better sleep, fortifies our immune system, and even influences our looks. In short, grateful people are friendlier, healthier, happier, and even more attractive.

If you’re having trouble developing this habit in your life, then here are five suggestions to help you master an attitude of gratitude:

Develop the habit of “looking up.”

We live in a world where we look downward while we text on phones, check our email, view iPads, or even when we walk. Much of the news is centered on looking at the downside of life and what’s wrong on this planet. How much better would life be if we remember from time to time to look up, look outward, and look heavenward?

Years ago—before email, text, and Facebook connections—we moved our young family from Arizona to Michigan. My ninth-grader had to leave a lot of her friends, which created quite a bit of stress. When she came home each day from school, she would look down at the table or the desk for snail mail from her friends. I decided this might make a good teaching moment for her.

Since my wife and I were the ones who normally picked up the mail, we placed the letters and cards in high places in our home—a hanging light fixture, a high fireplace mantel, the top of a picture frame on the wall. This helped teach our daughter to “look up”—that’s where we find happy things. Looking heavenward can bring happiness. Heavenly Father wants us to notice His blessings by looking to Him. At our house, “looking up” stuck! It’s helped us be more thankful.

Start a gratitude journal or a tender mercy board in your home.

Anything that helps us to put our busy lives on pause—long and often enough to count and chronicle our blessings—will go a long way in developing an attitude of gratitude. On a daily basis, find a way to pause and take in these blessings.

Writing and remembering blessings every day will make you more aware of His hand in your life. Maybe even try switching up your individual or family prayers, at least for a while. The morning prayer could be focused on asking for blessings that you or the family needs and the evening prayer could be centered on giving thanks.

Have you ever tried to offer a prayer of 100% gratitude? Not asking for anything? It surely makes you think about your long list of blessings, which can often seem overwhelming.

Make a list of all the people you are grateful for.

Take some time and make a list of all the people in your life that have changed your life for the better. As you make the list, write a few notes by their name stating why they are special to you and what they did that qualifies them to be on your list.

Go back as far as you can remember—teachers, friends, advisors, grandparents, parents, siblings, and anyone who touched your life for good. Make it an open list that can grow as you remember more experiences or meet new people.

Make a list of all the enriching experiences in your life.

Let your mind wander from your earliest recollections to what happened in recent days. What experiences, both hard and joyful, have blessed your life? Make a list and add a description of what the experience taught you and how you’ve become a better person for having lived it.

Be sure to include the adversities that made you stronger. Remember those special experiences which magnified your testimony or lifted your self-esteem. These experiences enlighten our view and generate gratitude in our lives.

Make a list of people you need to forgive.

Every major religion teaches about the renewing power of forgiving and letting go. The wellspring of gratitude is sometimes dammed in our minds when we cling to unkind feelings for others.

Is there someone in your life that you need to forgive? It could even be something so simple as a sarcastic comment or unintentional slip of someone’s tongue. Let go of those unkind feelings and see what happens to your heart. We become more grateful for those around us when we do as the Savior does. He forgives us and expects us to do the same. Love for life and thankfulness expands in our hearts as we forgive and let go.


5 Simple Ways to Develop an

If you need more help developing a grateful heart, check out more ideas in David A. Christensen’s book, A Thankful Heart: 31 Teachings to Recognize Blessings in Your Life.

Today’s article is shared from the following website: http://www.ldsliving.com/5-Simple-Ways-to-Develop-an-Attitude-of-Gratitude/s/80062

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Overcoming Depression – Creating an Attitude of Gratitude Part 3

There’s no happier person than a truly Thankful, content person Joyce MeyerThis week, in an effort to help others overcome depression, I am focusing on gratitude. There are several steps for overcoming depression and gratitude is an essential step.

Just think how happy you would be if your sole intent was to find the negative in everything you encounter. (Not Very right?) Yet, that is what some do – not intentionally but from thought patterns that they have developed over time.

Is there a co-worker who drives you crazy? Are you constantly fussing about your children’s cleanliness habits or lack of? What about those inconsiderate ways of your spouse or family member? Are you concerned that you are always getting the fuzzy end of the lollipop? Has some incredible trauma been a part of your life?

During my near-death experience, I saw the reverence, love, and honor that everyone had for each other in heaven. Other than God, no one was perfect but everyone radiated an air of love and goodwill. Everyone celebrated the good in each other and genuinely supported each other. I believe there is a lesson there. I walked away from my near-death experience with a greater understanding of what make heaven heaven.

We are on earth now, having a mortal experience. There is an important purpose for mortality. We have come to learn, grow, and improve. We have come to develop faith. We are no longer surrounded and enveloped by God’s love, as we were in heaven, but we can choose to love, honor, and reverence each other on earth as well. It is not easy work but it is work that our lives will be blessed for.

If you would like to overcome depression or just improve your life, you must develop an attitude of gratitude! Our thoughts and emotions are powerful things. So powerful, they can help heal us or help make us ill. There is a book, published in 1995, that speaks powerfully to the power of thoughts and emotions, etc. making us ill. It is called the 22 Non-Negotiable Laws of Wellness by Greg Anderson. It is a wonderful book! Whether you are suffering from depression or any other illness, it is worth your time and effort to read! Greg Anderson was diagnosed with terminal cancer (a second time) and then studied the patterns and changes made by individuals who had survived terminal illnesses. As you might have guessed, he adopted those changes himself and has lived to teach others about how to heal and overcome illness (even terminal ones).

I hope you will take the time to read Greg Anderson’s book! I also hope that you will work to increase your gratitude! Today’s article shares more information on how to have an attitude of gratitude! I hope you enjoy!:

How to Have an Attitude of Gratitude

It is that time of year when giving thanks is top of mind. The holiday season, and Thanksgiving in particular, causes us to think about all of the special things in our lives and express gratitude for them. This is a favorite time of year for many, in large part because we are surrounded by loved ones and visibly reminded of all that we have to be grateful for.

If you’re like me, you wish this feeling could last all year long. Just imagine feeling proud, thankful, and joyful on an ongoing basis, not only during the holiday season.

A major step in that direction is developing an “Attitude of Gratitude,” according to New York Times best-selling author Lewis Howes. Howes writes extensively about cultivating a grateful mindset in his highly-inspirational new book, The School of Greatness. As Howes simply says, “Life is better if you develop an attitude of gratitude.”

But what exactly does that mean and how do we do it?

An attitude of gratitude means making it a habit to express thankfulness and appreciation in all parts of your life, on a regular basis, for both the big and small things alike. As Howes puts it, “If you concentrate on what you have, you’ll always have more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you’ll never have enough.”

Here is a menu of tactics (just pick a few!) he endorses to help develop this mindset:

  • Wake up every day and express to yourself what you are grateful for
  • Tell whoever you are with at the end of the day the 3 things you are most grateful for
  • Tell whoever you are with right now (significant other, friend, family member, etc.) the 3 things that you are most grateful for in this moment
  • Start a gratitude journal – Express gratitude in this journal every night by noting the things that you are grateful for, proud of, and excited about
  • Acknowledge yourself for what you have done and accomplished in the last day/week/month/year. Instead of comparing yourself to others, give yourself credit for the big and small things you have been doing!
  • Acknowledge other people and thank them for inspiring/helping/supporting you – oftentimes people wait their whole lives to be acknowledged (and yet it happens far too infrequently)!

If the gratitude process is hard to get started, begin by asking yourself, “What could I be grateful for?”, and see if the ideas start to flow. This is a mindset habit that is recommended by Tony Robbins in his book, Awaken the Giant Within.

Every day won’t be perfect, but focusing on what we are grateful for tends to wash away feelings of anger and negativity.

And in addition to improving mood, recent studies show that feeling and expressing gratitude leads to better physical health as well. Paul Mills, a Professor of Family Medicine and Public Health at the University of California San Diego School of Medicine, conducted studies that looked at the role of gratitude on heart health.

Among other things, he found that participants who kept a journal most days of the week, writing about 2-3 things they were grateful for (everything from appreciating their children to travel and good food), had reduced levels of inflammation and improved heart rhythm compared to people who did not write in a journal. And the journal-keepers also showed a decreased risk of heart disease after only 2 months of this new routine!

So try adopting some of the above tactics, even just one or two, in order to develop an overall grateful mindset. It takes a bit of work, but having an attitude of gratitude is one of the most impactful habits for a fulfilling and healthy life.

Today’s article was written by Andrew Merle and is shared from the following website: https://www.huffingtonpost.com/andrew-merle/how-to-have-an-attitude-of-gratitude_b_8644102.html

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Overcoming Depression – Creating an Attitude of Gratitude Part 2

God gave you a gift of 86,400 seconds today. Have you used one of them to say Thank You? William Arthur WardAs I worked to overcome my severe depression, I found I needed to turn to the Lord daily in my efforts to get better. Through that entire process, He taught me many things. He taught me me to trust in the journey and He taught me the importance of my mindset.

One day, He inspired me with a story that I then wrote down. I call the story The Counters. As I wrote the story, I knew that it was really the Lord that was providing the story to me – not my vivid imagination. When the story was written, I was profoundly affected by the message of the story. I knew the lesson of the story was meant for me.

I am currently working to turn my story into a children’s book so I won’t go into the details of the story, but suffice it to say that being a counter is not a good thing. I realized I was a counter. I counted good events in my life and bad events in my life. I felt it was unfair for the bad to outweigh the good. I took my lesson to heart. I quit being a counter.

“Counters” are so busy counting all of the negatives that they fail to see their blessings. I knew better. I had and still have an incredible amount of blessings to be thankful for. I know that life is not fair. Now, I have learned to quit expecting life to be fair and to focus on the good, positive and amazing blessings of life that the Lord has provided to me.

As you read today’s article, I hope you will take time to reflect on your blessings. What do you have to be grateful for? Then take a second and express a sincere Thank You to someone!:

3 Ways To Develop Gratitude (The Great Healer)

Such an approach, though, eventually imprisons us in the very small world of our own needs, pushing away other people, and closing down the possibility of real growth. We may seek relief in a variety of ways – from the pleasures of physical entertainment, to the call to community service, and the possibilities of peace offered by spiritual practices and religion – but we often find that these tactics don’t provide the relief that we had hoped for, leaving us feeling more apathetic and cynical than before.

How can we escape this downward spiral?

All that ails us and the world, and the cause of all cynicism and apathy, I believe, comes from the lack of one essential factor in our lives: gratitude. The greatest human spirits have recognized that gratitude is the most rewarding and transformational practices that we can undertake. Cicero, the versatile Roman philosopher, stated:

Gratitude is not only the greatest of the virtues, but the parent of all the others.

In a similar vein, the thirteenth-century Christian mystic, Meister Eckhart, advised:

If the only prayer you said your whole life was “thank you,” that would suffice.

What exactly is gratitude, though? One definition that I discovered notes that gratitude is “an emotion that involves indebtedness toward another person,” and that this emotion arises when one receives something that meets the following criteria:

• It is valued by the recipient.
• It is costly to the benefactor.
• It is given with positive intention.
• It is given graciously, without any societal or professional obligation.

According to this definition, when these four criteria are met and we allow the emotion to arise, we experience gratitude. The problem with this definition, though, is that it makes gratitude conditional. When one of the criteria is not met – for example, when we don’t value the gift, or when we don’t believe that the gift is costly (monetarily, emotionally, or temporally) to the giver – according to this definition, we are excused from feeling gratitude.

Ethical, religious, and spiritual traditions encourage us to adopt a higher perspective on gratitude. From this point of view, gratitude is something far more profound than a momentary feeling of thanks for a specific valued gift. At its deepest potential, gratitude comes from an existential awareness that our bodies, our minds, our families and friends, the world in all its miraculous diversity, and all that we have are gifts. And that these gifts are given to us unconditionally, in love, at every moment of our lives.

This concept can be very difficult to incorporate because, as noted earlier, we tend to associate gratitude only with the receipt of a gift that we perceive to be valuable. When unwelcome events inevitably happen in our lives – disappointments, illness, conflicts – we naturally feel bitter and can easily believe that there is nothing to be thankful for. Conversely, when we get things that we think we want, we may be tempted to take all the credit, and believe that we have achieved these successes solely based on our own efforts and attributes. True gratitude, however, calls us to feel grateful not only for our successes, but also for our problems, our mistakes, and even for people who treat us unkindly. We can actually feel gratitude for our most difficult struggles, because these are seen as ultimately beneficial in our lives, even if the intention is not always immediately clear to us.

Gratitude can solve all that ails us because when we are truly grateful we immediately rise above our fear-based needs to dominate, control, or retreat in to cynicism. And when we approach people and situations with gratitude we will naturally be drawn to positive action, discovering new possibilities that we could never have imagined in the protective shell of self-isolation. These actions can take many forms, depending on the needs of the other person and the situation in the moment, but will always be beneficial for humanity.

Although gratitude is a feeling, it must be cultivated through action. The following offers several suggestions for developing gratitude:

1. Make a gratitude list: Srikumar Rao, who teaches a hugely popular class at Columbia Business School, and is author of “Are You Ready to Succeed”? recommends that we write a daily list of the things that have occurred for which we are grateful. These do not need to be major events, but can be the little occurrences that we usually ignore – the train arriving on time, good weather, a satisfying meal, a stranger’s warm smile – and the wonderful people and things in our lives that we all to often take for granted – our families, spouses, friends, jobs, homes, health, bodies.

2. Say “Thank you” to others: Stay alert for opportunities to express gratitude to others as often as you can. You will find that even when you are not feeling grateful, simply saying “thank you” will connect you to others, and will have an impact beyond the moment.

3. Develop a daily gratitude prayer: All religious and spiritual traditions stress the essential nature of gratitude, and place it as the bedrock of faith. Within many of these traditions the first prayer that a practitioner says every morning is “I am thankful for having awakened to another day.” This is a prayer of gratitude to our Creator for the very miracle of our lives.

These practices remind us that gratitude is available to us at any moment and under any circumstance, even – or especially – when we are not feeling particularly thankful. Seen from the highest perspective, gratitude is the door that opens to individual and world transformation, revealing our true nature, binding us to each other, and to the Divine.

Today’s article is shared from the following website: https://www.huffingtonpost.com/rabbi-alan-lurie/gratitude-the-great-heale_b_266952.html

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Why You Need an Attitude of Gratitude

Gratitude is like a well-formed muscle - Use it or lost it Ed J. Pinegar

5 Reasons to Develop an Attitude of Gratitude

The word gratitude has its origins in Latin, meaning gifts freely given. According to Dr. Angeles Arrien, author of Living in Gratitude: A Journey That Will Change Your Life, the Latin root of the word gratitude is grata or gratia — a gift. Gratitude shares a common root with the word grace, which means a gift freely given that is unearned.

Robert Emmons, Ph.D., the world’s leading scientific expert on gratitude, describes gratitude in two parts. First, it’s an acknowledgement of the good things in life received. And secondly, it’s the recognition that this goodness comes from a source outside of ourselves. This can be a higher power, the natural world, or from social connections with others.

Benefits Of Gratitude

Developing a habit of gratitude is one of the best things you can do to increase your health and happiness. Gratitude is emphasized by all the great religious traditions and is an important component of many spiritual practices. We are now coming to understand what the ancients already understood about the importance of gratitude. Here are five excellent reasons to develop an attitude of gratitude that have the support of science as well.

1. Gratitude makes you happier:

If you are already reasonably happy, gratitude can make you happier. But it can also lift your mood if you struggle with depression. One way that expressing gratitude works is by creating a surge of “feel good” brain chemicals like dopamine, serotonin, and oxytocin. According to gratitude expert Dr. Robert Emmons, gratitude may work by reducing underlying negative emotions such as regret, envy, frustration, and resentment. There’s evidence that the more grateful a person is, the less likely they are to experience depression.

Clinical psychologist Philip Watkins found that clinically depressed patients show significantly lower levels of gratitude (nearly 50 percent less) than control groups. Psychologist Dr. Deborah Serani, author of Living with Depression, reminds us that gratitude needs to be expressed all year round. She says, “Stopping to give seasonal thanks is a wonderful thing, but what’s even better is practicing gratitude year round. In fact, studies show that consistent positive interactions, particularly ones that involve gratitude, increase happiness and decrease levels of depression.”

Gratitude can make your kids happier, too. A study led by Jeffrey Froh, co-author of Making Grateful Kids, found that materialistic teens do worse in school and are more likely to get depressed. Froh believes our materialistic value system is to blame for a lot of teenage angst. He contends that focusing on extrinsic goals like image, money, and status does not fulfill psychological needs — even if these goals are met — thereby contributing to depression.

2. Gratitude improves your relationships:

Being grateful can help you make and keep friends, and strengthen relationships of all kinds. Gratitude helps you connect and empathize with others. Expressing gratitude can enhance marriages and make the relationship more resilient. Some experts believe that gratitude is the glue that holds couples together.

Research finds that grateful people exhibit enhanced brain activity in the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) and the medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC). These are areas of the brain linked to emotional processing, interpersonal bonding, moral judgment, and the ability to understand the mental states of others.

3. Gratitude makes you a better person — at any age:

Being grateful can make you an all-around nicer, more likable person. Those who regularly express gratitude are less materialistic and more spiritual. They are less self-centered and have better self-esteem. Grateful people are more sensitive, less likely to be envious, and less likely to be aggressive or seek revenge.

This holds true for people of all ages. When children from tots to teens are taught to be grateful, it makes them happier and better students. They act more kindly and generously to both friends and strangers alike. Gratitude enhances their sense of responsibility toward future generations which makes them better stewards of the environment.

4. Gratitude makes you healthier:

Feeling and expressing gratitude can make you healthier and it may even help you live longer. It reduces stress and increases emotional resilience. It helps you sleep better, especially if you do gratitude exercises before bed. It even boosts your immune system. Grateful people are more likely to take care of themselves — to eat healthy, exercise, and take measures to manage stress.

One study had participants keep a short, daily journal. One group wrote about things they were grateful for, while another group wrote about what went wrong that day. Besides feeling happier, those in the gratitude group reported fewer health complaintsand exercised more than the group that wrote only to vent their frustrations of the day.

5. Gratitude can give your career a boost:

Whether you are an employee, entrepreneur, or business owner, gratitude can make you more successful. Forbes, one of the world’s most popular sources of business news, has dozens of articles about the importance of gratitude in business. Being grateful can increase productivity and enhance your decision making skills. It can make you a better manager and help you understand and relate to your customers, co-workers, and clients.

How To Develop A Gratitude Habit

Some people are naturally more grateful than others, but expressing gratitude is a skill that anyone can learn to do. The first step to strengthening your gratitude muscle is to pay more attention to life and the people around you. It’s hard to be grateful for that which you do not notice! A great beginner’s exercise is to keep a gratitude journal. Buy a blank paper journal or use a gratitude app like Gratitude 365. One typical exercise is to write down five things you are grateful for before you go to bed. If you are stumped, it’s OK to start with the most obvious basics.

Once you’ve developed the habit of keeping a gratitude journal, you can get even more out of it by writing specifics — the more detailed the better. A University of Southern California study found that writing five sentences about one thing you’re grateful for is more effective than writing one sentence about five things you’re grateful for. Study participants who wrote in detail reported feeling more energetic, happy, alert, and excited than those who wrote generalities.

Let others know you appreciate them. Gratitude works even better when you share it. Develop a habit of telling one person every day what you appreciate about them or thank them for a job well done. Again, it helps to be more specific than general. Instead of saying to a friend “Thank you for being there,” tell them “I appreciate what a good listener you are. You have such wise advice and I always feel better after talking to you.” Imagine how different you would feel being on the receiving end of each of these sentiments!

Most people take the good things in their life for granted. If you aren’t sure whether you are sufficiently grateful to reap gratitude’s many benefits, you can take this gratitude quiz developed by The Greater Good Science Center based at the University of California Berkeley. It will help you know whether you are in need of a “gratitude tune-up.” If you are still having a hard time getting into the gratitude mindset, this video featuring Brother David, a highly respected Benedictine monk, should help. You’ll find more of his inspirational videos at Gratefulness.org.

You can change your life, the lives of those around you, and even the world by being grateful. It’s not hard to do and takes less time than many other healthy lifestyle habits such as meditation, exercise, or even brushing and flossing your teeth!

Today’s Blog post was written by Deane Alban and is shared from the following website: http://reset.me/story/5-reasons-to-develop-an-attitude-of-gratitude/

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